Synopsis of Max Quick #2: The Two Travelers

A lot of folks reading MAX QUICK 3: THE BANE OF THE BONDSMAN have complained that they are a bit hazy on the details of MAX QUICK 2: THE TWO TRAVELERS since it's been 6 or so years since that book was released.  Not to fear!  I've made a synopsis of MQ2 just for you that covers the main points of book 2 -- I know I tend to over complicate plots and details, so here is my penance to you all! :)  

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SYNOPSIS OF MAX QUICK 2: THE TWO TRAVELERS:

The second MAX QUICK book takes place five years after the events of THE POCKET AND THE PENDANT.  Casey, Ian and Sasha are seventeen and in high school.  Max has mysteriously begun aging as well, appearing now to be approximately the same age as his friends; his centuries-long childhood appears to be at an end.

The action opens with Max and Ian preparing for the Starland High graduation party at Max's house.  As they exit the Starland 'Food Universe' grocery store, a homeless old man rails at Max about ‘the Dreamtime’.  Then, the man inexplicably bolts through an Arch behind the dumpster (which we know about from the events of 'POCKET') – narrowly escaping a ‘crow’ (an Archon?) that dive-bombs him as he does so.

Shaken, Max and Ian return to Max’s lavish home, where he is protected by guardian Domitian Crux.  It is revealed that Mr. E has grown strangely silent in the years after the Pocket – and that Mr. E has collected or destroyed all the Books in world, leaving no direct path open to reaching him.  Likewise, we find out that Ian had previously installed wireless webcams at the Pyramid of the Arches; enhanced video shows that this old man was none other than ‘the real Enki’.  What is Enki doing homeless and crazed at the Food Universe?  Was he here to warn Max about something?

Ian and Max immediately summon Casey and Sasha: the foursome meet.  We learn that Max and Casey dated briefly and it ended badly; they have not spoken in some time, and are very awkward around each other.  We also learn that Ian and Sasha are boyfriend & girlfriend.

Ian has discovered a disturbing fact: Serp kids are being interrogated across the country.  One reveals to Ian that he was questioned by a Niburian looking for Max to kill him.  Ian also shares evidence that Niburians were previously here on earth in 1912 – and a picture of himself and Max taken in that same year.  The Niburians were attempting to build some kind of mysterious Machine back then, it seems.

Max figures all of this is somehow about his secret, and it’s now urgent that he uncover it.  He is powerful in some way he doesn’t yet understand – and he needs access to that power now, to protect himself and his friends.  1912 is also the year Petunia said ‘he saved her’ – suggesting his past-self may know this secret of power – and how to use it. 

Lastly, Ian knows exactly which Arch Enki entered once inside the Pyramid: they can follow him.  It’s decided that Ian and Max will go back to 1912, to learn what they can of Max’s secret and this Machine; and Casey and Sasha will follow Enki.

Later that night, using a Whispering Stone (the one from the Starland Museum of Antiquities at the opening of 'Pocket'), Max attempts to contact Mr. E’s allies on Nibiru.  But the ‘call’ is intercepted: Max finds himself experiencing a decadent, aristocratic scene of nine corpulent barristers drinking ‘wine’ that is the sorrows of the world made material.  These beings freely reveal that they are in fact Archons; and that they drove Enki mad.  They then prophesize that Max will help them 'bring about the rise of the Bondsman'.  They invite Max to join them willingly; Max refuses.  They shrug and remark he’ll help them anyway.  Then the encounter ends.

Terrified, Max ponders this, but at that moment Domitian warns him that the house is under attack.  Domitian spirits Ian, Casey, Max and Sasha away via an underground tunnel as Niburians savagely torch the house.  Domitian drives them to the Starland Food Universe and they enter the Arch in the nick of time; Domitian keeps the pursuing Niburians at bay as they make their escape.

They quickly say goodbyes, then Max and Ian go through one Arch, back to 1912; then Casey and Sasha enter theirs.

(From here on, the action cuts back and forth between the Max/Ian story and the Casey/Sasha story)

Max and Ian arrive in February, 1912 across from the Flatiron building.  After a few mistakes the boys make trying to fit in, a strange crone appears and points to window, muttering into a Whispering Stone ring.  Without warning, a Sky Chamber appears, floating soundlessly between the buildings, but no one seems to see it except Max and Ian.  A figure emerges and darts into the window and emerges with an infant, spiriting it into the craft.  Max and Ian, using their bracelets to achieve Pocket abilities again, leap up onto the hull of the craft to stealthily hitch a ride. 

But to their surprise, the hatch opens and the figure emerges, startled to see them.  He is a dramatic, Shakespearian man with a pointed black beard; he and Max immediately begin fighting as the Sky Chamber tilts and begins accelerating through the city.  Ian struggles merely to hang on. 

The man dashes off the hull through another open window; Max and Ian pursue and arrive just in time to see a quantum Book drop to the floor.  They enter the Book; the man performs several quick Book jumps in rapid succession, hoping to shake them.  In the last, they emerge in a number of Books falling from the sky over the Himalayas. Max and Ian struggle in free fall towards another Book while the man shoots at them ‘half out’ the other Book; Max throws Ian’s dagger into his shooting hand; he yelps and withdraws.  Just before all the Books hit the ground, Max and Ian enter the other Book.  They emerge in a house of some kind, and follow the blood trail to a Book on a pedestal – and are instantly imprisoned inside of this Book: the operant text was on the cover. They’ve been tricked into Book-imprisonment – just as Jadeth had been.

Meanwhile, Sasha and Casey arrive in a blood-red sunned desert – not at all what the Arch showed them.  For some reason, they can’t find the Arch to return either.  They walk a bit and come upon an old Western town with a chewed wood sign that reads WELCOME TO ARTURO GYP.  Dirty men, murderers, thieves are everywhere.  They witness a mechanical, black-eyed Sheriff named Blackthorne, who brutally guns down a shaking blacksmith with preternatural precision.  Casey notes that Blackthorne’s guns – later revealed as ‘the Black Roses’ – have strange heathen gold designs that actually spin and swirl during a gunfight.  Then two little boys give gifts of orchids to Casey.  Then they enter the Lucky Thirteen saloon, and ask around about Mr. E.  One man says, yes, Mr. E was here a few days back.  But when Sasha and Casey say they’ll follow his trail, everyone just laughs and someone mentioned ‘perturbations in perambulation’.  They are then ‘rescued’ by an almost comically good-looking man named Cody Chance, who seems ‘dressed up like someone playing cowboy’.  He offers them shelter in a teepee with his friend Logan White-Cloud, a blind old Indian who looks like raisin. 

Back in 1912, Max and Ian are extricated from their Book-imprisonment.  Five figures surround them, including the man they had been chasing.  These are undoubtedly the 1912 Niburians, Max thinks, but quickly learns they are human.  The leader, an older but beautiful gypsy-looking woman named Europa Romani harshly questions them, threatening them with wearing fire-heated iron ‘shoes’ if they do not answer.  Max detects and thwarts a mental attack from Carlos Gustav, a swarthy ‘psychologist’ versed in things Dreamtime.  The five are shocked by Max and Ian’s knowledge of Niburians; and it is revealed that they form the House of the Hidden Hand, an alliance of talented humans resisting a plot to create a Machine of some sort.  But Gaspar Faliero, the ‘real magician’ whom Max and Ian chased, does not trust them.  Max is Niburian, they quickly ascertain: why would a Niburian fight his own kind?  But Max names Enki as a friend and ally, which causes them all to gasp.  To them, Enki is a legendary figure.  Max tells them the story of the Pocket, and then offers to lead them to the Isle of the Dreamtime as proof – since they have Books in this time still, it should be possible.  They heartily accept.  But when they arrive, the Isle is in ruins.  Mr. E is nowhere to be found.  Faliero crows: his distrust is vindicated; but Michelle LeVeux, a French stunner, thinks otherwise, and senses Mr. E’s previous presence.  Romani concurs as does Sambhava, a Tibetan monk, and Gustav.  Faliero reluctantly acquiesces and they return to the House.

Sasha and Casey leave Arturo Gyp and set out after Enki.  Cody sees them off with some kind of strange knowing smirk that irritates Casey; Blackthorne silently watches them from a window.  In the desert, they encounter a lone craggy black tree labeled THE TREE OF PAIN; beneath it is a skeleton wearing Niburian centurion armor.  Perplexed, Sasha folds the cloth-metal material into her pack.  But next, they find a crashed Sky Chamber, half-buried in the sand.  Were there Niburians marooned back in time, in Arturo Gyp?  Was that why Enki came here?  But as the day wanes and the heat takes its toll and night approaches, they are exhausted: and finally the next town appears in the distance.  As they near it after dark, they can barely make out a sign: WELCOME TO ARTURO GYP.  They are stunned: they have traveled in a straight line!  But Cody appears with water and blankets, actually expecting them, remarking that ‘leaving the Gyp has always been problem’.

Back in 1912, Max and Ian are uneasily welcomed into the House.  Quickly, they are told they must do nothing: it would upset the careful campaigns of the House against the Niburians.  Max is furious; he did not come back to 1912 to be caged.  But Gustav studiously points out all the ways in which Max was incredibly lucky during the Pocket; Mr. E saved them at every turn, he contends.   Later, Michelle pulls Max aside and conspiratorially asks if he’d like to sneak out of the house with her for a ‘day of fun’ – Max agrees, nonplussed by Gustav.  And then all of them suffer a gut-wrenching ‘psychic attack’, which Romani attributes to the Machine being tested.

Casey rails at Cody over the explanation of Arturo Gyp.  How is it they are trapped here?  Cody explains that new people arrive now and then but no one has ever left – except for Mr. E, apparently, but Cody thinks he died in the desert more likely.  Nobody ever believes it unless they try to leave themselves – a rite of passage in the Gyp, which is why he let them go.  Cody then offers to take Casey out on the town to make up; she accepts, they go back to Thirteen.  There, a man becomes enamored with Casey’s Niburian bracelet and fetches Blackthorne.  The Sheriff arrives in force, deputies corner Cody while he takes her outside for a ‘talk’.  There, he tries to forcibly take the bracelet from her, but suffers an attack of some kind while choking her.   Casey rises and fetches Cody; they retreat to the teepee with Blackthorne rises, clearly disturbed.

Max, Ian, Gustav and Romani talk.  Romani reveals that Madworth, the crone, is Niburian, who is stealing children for the Machine.  The purpose of this is unknown, as is the purpose of the Machine, though none doubt it is an evil purpose.  Faliero had been spying on them when he had been caught by Max and Ian.  Max asks Gustav to open his mind to reveal his secret as Mr. E had done before; Gustav refuses, citing a previous failure of his in such a matter resulting in death.  So Max asks Gustav to teach him, to help him discover his power without opening his memory; Gustav agrees.  Meanwhile, Sambhava and Ian go for a walk; they overhear two Pinkertons discussing Madworth and the abduction of children all over New York.  Sambhava corners one later who reveals that they are to keep the matter quiet and keep an eye out for a boy named ‘Max Quick’.

Blackthorne, oddly vexed, reluctantly enters the Fortuneteller’s booth.  Casey sneaks under the floor to listen in.  Blackthorne reveals that he does not sleep or dream, nor recall his birthday (no one in the Gyp does, she learns).  The Fortuneteller reveals to Blackthorne that he is ‘part of Arturo Gyp’, that he lives for fear in others, and that the Two of Roses will oppose him – a red rose and a white rose, and his final card is ‘The Fool’.  He explodes and threatens to kill the Fortuneteller, but is distracted by gunshots outside.  Blackthorne heads into the street where several ruffians are harassing Logan White Cloud.  Being the Sheriff, he is obliged to help, but the Indian terrifies Blackthorne for some reason he can’t name – and he hates the Indian for this.  Logan announces to the girls that he is going to teach them to shoot, that they need to learn in order to survive here.  He begins their first lesson.  Later, Cody shows Casey a spyglass at night – when she looks through it, she can see Arturo Gyps stretching off into infinity in the distance.  Over the next several weeks, under Logan’s stern tutelage, the girls master the art of gunfighting.

Gustav begins to teach Max, but Max is not a very good student, it turns out.  He is abysmal, in fact, which greatly disturbs both Max and Gustav.  Meanwhile, Ian sneaks around the House at night and uncovers a secret room filled with Niburian artifacts.  He slips on a green emerald ring which suddenly fuses with his flesh.  He is discovered by Gustav and Romani, who are deeply concerned by this – and tell him he now has a ‘bloodmetal ring’ – used by ancient Niburian centurions – bonded to him for life.  It will cover him in dark metal scales in times of need, but exacts a terrible price from the wearer they do not know much about, other than ancient hints.  The next morning, Romani rouses Ian and tells him a tale of her own rashness in her youth which led to her entire village being slaughtered by Madworth in the 1500’s – and takes him to see an old ally.  This is Marvin Sparkle, an enormous, dour black man, who is hunting a ‘Nibrurian beast’ in New York who has only just arrived.  She asks if Sparkle if he knows how to remove the ring from Ian; Sparkle replies he does not and departs, reminding Romani that he prefers to operate alone.

Back in the Gyp, Casey sneaks into Blackthorne’s house when he is out on evening rounds.  She discovers several things that suggest Niburian presence, culminating in a concealed compartment in the wall that is very clearly Niburian.  Inside are the power jewels for a Sky Chamber – probably the very ones from the crashed ship in the desert.  Bingo: Blackthorne’s a Niburian.  But Blackthorne returns early; she hides in the attic.  Blackthorne smells her presence and shoots through the ceiling; Casey panics and forgets everything Logan taught her about gunfighting, but manages to escape.  She goes back to the teepee and relays what she discovered; Cody is skeptical of the existence of ‘star people’.  Later, Sasha recounts the story of the abduction of the Serpents and Mermaids from her point of view: particularly how Ace tried to save himself and leave her behind. 

Max and Michelle sneak out of the House for a day in the Park.  After several 1912-style wonders and frivolities, where Michelle lets a hint drop she wants to run away from the House with Max, they encounter Madworth in Sunpike’s Sweets.  Madworth is using the confectioner as a cryptomnesiac messenger; she informs him that the Machine is nearly ready and they have nearly enough children.  Madworth leaves; they follow.  Madworth spots Petunia as a young girl in an alley and gives chase; then the young, 1912 Max Quick darts by … followed by Marvin Sparkle.  Sparkle grabs the young Quick and raises a blade, about to kill the boy, when present-Max slams into him – barely making a dent, as Sparkle is so huge.  Enraged, Sparkle throttles Max; the boy version escapes, stunned.  Michelle infuses Sparkle psychically with bodily pain to make him submit.  Sparkle lets Max go and they question him.  Sparkle says he is here to “kill the boy, before he does great harm to the world”.  Max is baffled: what is he talking about?   They let him go; Michelle advises Max to keep this info secret from the House, especially from Faliero.  

Casey goes to get water one morning from the well … and realizes that the well is the very same one as in the Book of Jonathan Roseblood Cyranus from ‘Pocket’.  A penny materializes in the air above it; and she hears a young Ian’s voice makes a comment, then nothing more.  She runs back to the teepee to relay this and they discuss: does this mean Arturo Gyp is in that Book also?  There were wolves in that Book … and as if by magic, a new stranger wanders into the Gyp from the desert.  He is naked and bit up with scars all over his body.  Blackthorne questions him; he learns that this is none other than Ace; badly hurt but very alive after all.  Blackthorne tells him he’ll get revenge but Ace’ll have to fit into his plan: Ace agrees.  Later, Sasha is horrified to run into Ace in the street.  They banter; Sasha is shaken.  Meanwhile, a drunk Blackthorne accosts Casey to ‘kiss or kill’ her …but all he does is press their faces together.  Casey passes out; but Blackthorne backs away from her, more terrified than ever by whatever he learns from this encounter.

Max and Ian set out to locate the young Max Quick.  Petunia talked about the ‘docks’ of New York, so they head there.  They find a ship called the Peking that Max remembers as he did the Texas farmhouse.  Its Captain, Jonas Dunkirk, is wary of these two ‘gentlemen’ and Max’s claim to be an older version of the young Max.  Young Max and Petunia have gone missing, it seems.  But after some verbal jousting, Dunkirk suddenly attacks Max and rips open his suitcoat – revealing a long stomach scar.  Dunkirk reveals that he stitched the scar up himself, and that Marvin Sparkle was the one who made the wound.  Furthermore, Dunkirk reveals it was he who named him ‘Max Quick’, being his deckhand name in his own youth (‘Maximum quickness with maximum efficiency!’ his Captain would yell at him).  Dunkirk also has a piece of paper that gives an address in Connecticut for ‘Miss Starry – Mother’.   Could this be Max’s Mother?  Later, Gustav and Max despair again at his lack of progress in learning Dreamtime arts and unlocking his ‘power’.

Casey and Sasha are awakened by sound of a jetliner.  They rush outside the teepee into a fog-swaddled Gyp; a commercial airliner nearly crashes into the town before pulling up into the sky – and winking out of existence, as if through a portal in the sky.  Blackthorne watches the airplane studiously without surprise – and then retreats into his house.  The fog clears; Cody tells the girls it’s a ‘Hill Day’ where hills filled with ‘Brigands’ inexplicably replace the familiar desert.  They have to spend the day fighting them off with the townfolk.  But while they fight, Casey spies Blackthorne sneaking out of town with his deputies.  She convinces Sasha, Cody and Logan to stealthily follow.  They find out that ‘Hill Day’ is a ruse to keep the townfolk distracted – Blackthorne has a hill hollowed out as a hanger for a makeshift Sky Chamber.  The blacksmith had been forced to work on it night and day: it’s why he cracked.  The Sky Chamber is ready now, Blackthorne says, and they are going to fly out of the Gyp through the portal in the sky where the airplane had gone.  Casey and Sasha determine that they have to stop Blackthorne, hijack the Chamber themselves … when suddenly Blackthorne assembles the Niburians into the craft and then detonates dynamite all around the hill, pancaking it and destroying the Chamber and the Niburians inside.  Blackthorne wordlessly rides back into the Gyp, to the utter amazement of the foursome.   Why had he destroyed his only way out of the Gyp?  It made no sense.

On the morning of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, Ian reports that two children have been ‘loitering’ outside the supposedly invisible House of the Hidden Hand.  Michelle is sent to bring them in; they are Vadim and Vanya, and they are two children who escaped from the place where they are making the Machine.  Romani questions them; they learn that the Machine is massive, underground, and where there is portal to access it from the city above.  The Machine is designed by Archons, though built by Niburians.  The children are put inside of it and soaked with terror, though the reason for this is unknown.  Spurred by the tale of the children, Gustav tells Max there may yet be a way to awaken his latent memories – but it is very dangerous.  Max consents; Gustav basically attacks him, threatening his life.  Something inside Max responds; his entire form lights up with stars, he becomes a million suns shaped like person and repels the attack – though still unsure how he did it. 

Later, Romani reveals that there is a traitor in the House.  It could be anyone, but due to the evidence is has to be someone inside the House.  Faliero suspects Max; even Romani think it may be possible; Ian suspects Faliero.   Regardless, there is only way to protect against it now: everyone must split up and not tell anyone where they are save Romani (the only trusted party).  Max and Ian go stay with Dunkirk on the Peking. 

Casey visits the Fortuneteller who tells her fortune; Casey is ‘the Queen of this place’ and in the end, there will be The Two of Moons: two women, standing alone against the shadow.  But, The Two of Roses, there will be help.  Later, Logan White Cloud makes a strange gift of two magnificent guns each to the girls: the White Roses and the Red Roses.  They are ‘twin Excaliburs, paintings of Michelangelo’s, inventions of DaVinci all rolled into one’.   Logan will not reveal the origin of the guns, only that it is the same as the origin of Blackthorne’s Black Roses, and that they are specifically meant for the girls.  Like Blackthorne’s, these guns have carvings on them that move and swirl when in battle, they are in some sense alive, magic guns. 

Then Blackthorne declares a vicious form of Martial Law in the Gyp, severely curtailing freedoms and outlawing firearms, private ownership of food, and looking in the Town Records.  Spurred by this curious last item, Sasha and Casey promptly break into town hall while Logan and Cody keep Blackthorne busy at a town meeting.  There, they make a startling discovery:  ARTURO GYP is an anagram for PURGATORY.  Casey subconsciously sabotages any attempt to figure this out – Sasha has to make the final leap for her and point it out.   Furthermore, the town was founded by K.C. Cyranus, it seems … but what does it mean?

They hear gunfire outside; Casey and Sasha rush to the aid of Cody and Logan.  Blackthorne and his Deputies are standing off with them.  After banter, Ace sneaks up and shoots Logan in the back; Cody and Blackthorne go toe to toe.  Cody lasts impressively long, but dispassionate software-like reflexes of Blackthorne endure longer; Cody is killed.  Casey’s heart breaks; she explodes.  The sunlight shines on her alone for a moment and in a rage she tears the Sherrif’s badge from Blackthorne and commands him to leave town.  The force of her command is palpable; somehow Blackthorne is compelled to obey.  Casey pins the Sheriff bades on her shirt and abandons herself to grief for Cody … but she knows Blackthorne will be back. 

Romani sends word to all of a Spring Ball they will all be attending.  Madworth is coming as are many other Niburians; they will go and spy, attempt to learn new information before risking an all-out attack on the nest of the Machine.  They all arrive at the Ball; Cyranus from 1912 is there.  Michelle shows up with Madworth, never expecting the rest of the House to attend something so ‘fun’ as a Ball.  Only Max spots her.  He confronts her: she is shocked and outed at the traitor, but unrepentant.  Max allows her to leave without Romani finded her, but ‘everything will be different when next we meet’.  Meanwhile Cyranus and Madworth chat about her using him to locate the now-dispersed House; he wants the Singular Eye (a gem used on Max in Pocket) in return while Max listens in.  But Madworth discovers him and immediately moves to kill Max and nearly succeeds – but Romani intervenes and saves Max.  Romani announces to Madworth that she is the grown little girl she encountered hundreds of years ago – Madworth had believed her dead, and is enraged that she lived.  They engage in a fierce melee of form against form – Romani becomes a pillar of fire, Madworth becomes a swarm of bees crashing into the fire, which turns into a thousand tiny black holes, quenching the flames – kicking Romani out of ‘Dreamtime reality’ into normal reality as herself again.  She urges Max to flee, which he does, and in the end Romani is killed, sacrificing herself for Max.

Back in the Gyp, Casey and Sasha ready themselves for the final showdown against Blackthorne.  They bury Cody.  They tend to Logan, who is dying.  The Gyp transforms into a beautiful place.  In the middle of the desert, a sparkling jewel of city on a hill.  Grass, roses, every crooked board righted and cleaned.  Everyone in Sunday best and polite.   Quietly, solemnly, Casey inhabits the Victorian once owned by Blackthorne and waits.  Sasha and Casey figure out that Arturo Gyp is somehow Casey’s creation – she is manifesting the town and everyone and everything in it.  Cody Chance – Casey Cole.  CC.  Her idealized guy.   Blackthorne, her dark side.  Something happened when they tried to go through the Arch; it zapped them or something, Sasha theorizes they are unconscious in the Pyramid right now, locked into the same dream – but that it is specifically Casey’s dream. 

Back at the Peking, Max, Ian, Gustav, Sambhava, Faliero and even Dunkirk mourn the passing of Romani.  Faliero tells his tale – how he became a ‘real magician’ and then met Romani and undertook the larger task of defeating the Machine.  They resolve to attack the Machine head on at daybreak.

Blackthorne and his deputies ride in out of the desert.  The people of the Gyp are gone; the charade is over.  It is only Casey and Sasha versus the five black riders coming in from the distance.  A phonebooth appears ringing insistently.  Casey answers, the voice of her father, Jonathan Roseblood Cyranus reassures her.  Then Blackthorne is upon them.  He sets the town on fire.  Mozart’s Requiem howls from a Victrola.  A hellacious gunfight ensues.  Casey and Blackthorne are paired off; Sasha takes on the deputies and ‘Ace’.   In the end, Sasha defeats Ace with the centurion armor hidden under her clothes (from the ‘Tree of Pain’); Casey is at first defeated by bullets ‘made of her fears’, but as she overcomes the and refuses to lose, she wills herself to face and own them – including Blackthorne.  She accepts him as part of herself, integrates him.  This subdues him – and she refuses to ‘kill’ him, as he is part of her also.  She transcends him, and realizes at last what exactly he is: an Archon.  This is what they are: the dark side made manifest.  Fear incarnate.  Sentient fear.  This is an important insight, one that eluded even Enki.  Her triumph dissolves the Gyp, the dream ends and she Casey awaken on the floor of the Pyramid of the Arches….

Meanwhile, the House of the Hidden Hand makes their way to the subterranean hideout of the Machine beneath the city.  It is an enormous, colossal contraption with spinning bands of gold.  Victorian and somehow Niburian at once.  The party makes their way through several lines of defense and various obstacles; Max is injured severely; Sambhava heals him at the cost of his life.  Then Max and Madworth square off.  An Archon as crow sits on her shoulder mocking Max, telling him he will fail.  The purpose of the Machine is revealed: it is device meant to amplify fear, hatred, etc. into the world.  Archons feed on fear, they are fear, this is to serve them.   The world will erupt in wars, conflicts and suffering unlike anything ever seen before in history.  Max resolves all the more to destroy the Machine.  Max and Madworth fight; it is like the battle with Romani, form versus form, in the end, Max’s star power is simply too overwhelming and Madworth is slain, but she calls Max ‘the last piece’ of the Machine.      

Max then destroys the Machine, but feels as he does so that he is ‘breaking something’ fundamental.  The concussion blows him free; he finds his younger self was inside the Machine, powering it, and he is now unconscious.  The children are all ‘saved’, including Petunia, thus fulfilling her comment from ‘Pocket’.  Yet…Ian is disturbed: something is amiss – a hole has appeared in the streets of Manhattan leading down here.  That is something history did not record before.

At last, they visit Miss Starry – Mother in Connecticut.  There they learn that she is Ninti, Enki’s Niburian companion in antiquity and mother of humanity, not Max’s mother.  Yet a horrible realization unfolds in their conversation: the true purpose of the Machine was to tempt Max into destroying it, thus destroying the inviolable nature of time itself.  Previously, history could not be altered; but now it can be, because Max weakened that ‘groove’ in the universe through the destruction of the Machine.  Max altered history with that act, opening the door for others to do so as well.  ‘The tyranny of the page’ is no longer absolute. 

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Ninti then reveals Max’s secret: though he is Nibruian, he is the result of Archon breeding, of their patient manipulation over eons.  He has a genetic talent for bending the Dreamtime.  He was meant for a terrible purpose, but kept hidden on earth by Enki as an infant.   He was told he was human, and made to forget – to keep his power from developing, sort of keeping him sedated.  The ruse worked for thousands of years, but now it appears the original purpose of the Archons has finally been accomplished.

Ian then realizes that true motivation behind the Pocket was to smoke out Max.  For thousands of years, the Archons did not know where Max was; but recently they’d realized he was on earth.  But now, how to find him?  The answer came in manipulating Jadeth’s lust for power.  Her advisor, Philomen – whom Ian realizes now was an Archon all along – encouraged her to stop time on earth and seek the Pendant; all the while Philomen sought Max.  Max’s immunity to stopped time would make him easier to locate among six billions humans.

Ninti hurries them back through an Arch: back at the Pyramid, Max and Ian find Casey and Sasha just awakening.   Max is catatonic with the realization of what he has done.  In one Arch, a wall of crows seethes and then breaks through, filling the Pyramid with Archons invading all times, all places, recreating all of history with more fear and hatred.  Max hears one of them recall their promise that Max would help them.

And then … hope!  From another Arch comes Enki, in a Saville Row suit and trimmed beard, looking dapper, no longer insane and homeless.   He is his usual eccentric, bizarre yet humorous self.  They have work to do!  And they have to get out of this Pyramid now, as the Arch portals are collapsing from the damage done by the Archons.  As the walls fall down around them, the five of them jump through an Arch onto a woodsy beach.  They have no idea when or where they are, or what has become of the world or history around them.   As they sit around a beach fire at sunset, Enki advises them to rest and gather their strength, for the task ahead of them to restore the world and defeat the Archons will take everything they have….